By Louise Sattler 

My foray in to the world of disaster preparedness did not come by accident.  It came when terrorism knocked at my door. All of our doors.

I remember the exact time and place of where I was when I received a call asking where my brother was at that moment.

“What do you mean, he is at work?” 

Work, by the way was in the World Trade Center Towers, or at least I thought so until I learned a short while later that he moved his office a few blocks away.

That move probably saved his life.

After the initial shock wore off I decided to connect with my many friends in the Deaf community who use sign language to communicate. ASL to be  specific.  What was their experience in the light of 9/11.  We lived in the metro Washington DC area and many found themselves in the district during that fateful day.

Their experiences were largely not good. First Responders, who due to no fault of their own, could not communicate. 

Fear. Silence. Confusion.

It was on 9/11 or maybe 9/12 that I had an epiphany. I would create a way for emergency workers to help to communicate with those who had unique challenges, such as Deafness or Autism. 

And I did.

In 2010 I released (finally) SIGN LANGUAGE FOR EMERGENCY SITUATIONS.  At first it fell flat. A few sold to Barnes and Noble and some other online stores.

Virtually no one inquired about what I thought was a “sure thing” when it came to filing a niche market. Then I decided to mail to each of the statewide emergency response program directors (EMS-C) sample packets containing the DVD, an emergency communication chart and a hand written note.  This was not cheap, but I really was motivated to make this work- save lives – improve communication.

Months later I received a phone call, could I train a number of emergency responders in Alabama.  The phone continued to ring and ring for  New Jersey, Kentucky, Wyoming, and many more seeking to learn more.

Before I knew it I was talking to decision makers, at  major conferences, being asked to serve on the EARTHQUAKE COUNTRY ALLIANCE  committee  and being asked to speak at the International Association for Emergency Management (IAEM). 

I also got another call. Walmart wanted my DVDs.  Now say what you want about Walmart, but when disaster struck Moore, Oklahoma they were critical in bringing supplies to those who were left with literally nothing. (See photos of my first hand observation of Moore, Oklahoma three weeks after the May tornadoes hit and devastated this community and surrounding areas.)

Many needed the help and generosity of companies, organizations and individuals.

This included the Deaf community as three deaf families were left with NOTHING after Oklahoma.  Eleven deaf families wound up in shelters immediately. This time First Responders were more prepared than Katrina, Joplin or 9/11

We still have much to learn.

Many gaps to bridge.

Many lives to save.

I  have uploaded a video to help everyday citizens save lives of their neighbors, friends and family who use sign language.  YouTube video

For more information about my programs and how you can help save lives please connect via SIGNING FAMILIES.

Please do not hesitate to connect to learn how your schools, organizations and Community Emergency Responders (CERT) can help someone with access and functional needs.  EMAIL ME HERE

If you live in the United States and wish a complimentary copy of our emergency mini-chart, please send me an email.  This offer is good for the first 25 requests or until December 31, 2013. Thank you.


Louise Sattler is a nationally recognized guest speaker who melds her life as a psychologist with her passion for sign language.  Known for her infusion of humor in to her live presentations and media engagements- she can make learning fun! As owner of SIGNING FAMILIES  she often speaks about disaster and emergency preparedness within our communities, especially with children and adults who have special needs.  Louise also is the co-founder of 411 VOICES and considered to be an expert in social media marketing and influence.  Connect with Louise via TWITTER or EMAIL at  INFO<at>